tv Oral Histories Women in Congress - Pat Schroeder Interview CSPAN August 5, 2018 10:00am-11:44am EDT
1977 as a democrat from colorado. she was one of only 14 congresswomen. she talks about balancing work with raising a family. and her experience is one of the founding members of the women's caucus. historian of the conducted this interview which is about an hour and 40 minutes. >> my name is kathleen johnson. today we are happy to be interviewing former congresswoman pat schroeder from colorado. this interview is for the jeannette rankin oral history 105tht to commemorate the election andf her swearing-in to congress. thank you for coming. >> i'm delighted to be here. start off with a
few general questions. start off with a few general questions. swearing-in to congress. i thought eleanor roosevelt was really pretty remarkable. rather than being a gorgeous glamour queen she was very interested in what was going on in the world and how she could contribute to it. .nd seem to have a lot of guts that was not a word that you would associate with women in the 40's and 50's. they were not supposed to have
that. and she did. i just thought, good for her. >> what were the societal expectations for you as a young girl as to what you would be when you get older? >> it was the idea that you either became mommy or a teacher or a nurse. there wasn't a lot of options. of narrowly kind channeled. luckily i had a family that was not so narrow in their view and allowed me to do a lot of things that other girls didn't do. college i to literally selected my college my father said the most
important thing i would learn in college was how to pay for my own way. i had to pay for my own tuition and the most important thing i would learn in college was how to pay for my own way. books. i picked the university of minnesota because they have airplanes for the rotc program. the idea was it was for the young males and rotc. i said i want to fly. the said this doesn't fit data gory. i love scandinavians in minnesota. it doesn't say we can't rent them to you. so i was able to get a job in minneapolis at an insurance company adjusting aviation losses and running airplanes for the university so i could make money to pay my tuition. i had a very different career path and a lot of young women that i grew up with. many of them were horrified. >> what drew you to politics?
>> my father was always interested in politics. dinner table conversations were always very vivid about what was going on. i went to high school in des moines where they didn't even bread because it had a female profile on the cover. they didn't have alcohol by the drink. and you could only have shorts at a certain length. could get a ticket for not having them the right length. we had a lot of discussions about that at home. great-grandfather that was in the nebraska legislature with william jennings bryan.
he was a first generation irish immigrant. he won.or office and he was my father's grandfather. i never thought of it as a career. when we moved to denver after i finished law school, i met my husband at harvard law school. we decided to pick a city where we wanted to live. he was from chicago. i was from des moines. so we picked denver. we got involved in all sorts of community things. young democrats being one of them. he ran for office in 1970 for a statehouse seat. and he lost by the narrowest margin ever. it was a very republican area.
reapportionment they came down and literally carved our house out and put it in an entirely different district thinking about him. he decided in the interim he really didn't like campaigning that much. in 1972 when nixon was running and it looks like it was going to be a runaway against mcgovern and colorado was in the second-most conservative delegation in the country right behind arizona. was on this committee of young firebrands looking for someone to run for congress against republican incumbent. said,ody they went to what are you, nuts? meetings and these i'm home with her two-year-old -- our two-year-old.
he said, guess who's name came up? yours. i haven't run for a bus. what are you talking about? thes teaching at one of colleges. she said of course you'll never win but it's so important to articulate the issues. and that's the beginning. [laughter] that's i got into it. happenstance. being totally assured i couldn't win and i was going to have a wonderful discussion with the people of denver. >> did anybody offer you advice when you jumped into the campaign? >> no. all we camet it was to washington to meet with the democratic campaign group. the democratic congressional campaign.
and they said, you won the primary? we said yes. they said, we really have nothing to say to you. can't waste our money. -- we can't waste our money. i had worked for a while at the labor relations board in denver. i thought you would think the unions would be very excited about me. this is colorado. here i was. the afl-cio sent me $50. which i kind of returned and said, thanks but no thanks. was like what is this 31-year-old mother out of colorado think she's doing. lesss like the altitude oxygen to the brain or something must have happened.
the first thing i would get when i would come to talk to anybody right?u're a fluke, they really didn't think that was possible. >> what are some of the key moments in that 72 campaign that stick out for you? >> because we had no advice from the powers that be we were kind of on our own. for most of the campaign and we ran out of our basement. we were running against incumbent whomoments in was thet popular politician in colorado. and was during the vietnam war. we sat around the table and we talked about how are we going to do with issues?
could look atu everybody's brochure and you really couldn't tell who was a republican or democrat. had pictures of themselves with little kids. with police officers. at a grocery store. usually on the last page democrats might be on a bike and republicans on a horse. outside of that you couldn't tell the difference. we put together this absolutely radical stuff. there was the war that was a big issue and we had on the ballot in colorado the olympics. olympicshad won the and environmentalists said this is an absolute disaster for the state and we want to vote on it before it comes here. so the political answer was the so happy it's on
ballot. everybody will be able to express their viewpoint. and i always cared about children and poor kids. we decided to run with three posters. we made black-and-white commercials that i was in. the cheapest commercials he had ever seen. my average campaign contribution was seven dollars and $.50. we had an elderly woman walking down one of the streets in denver with a cane and it said cheer up, the olympics are coming. it was a rather strong message. we had another one of the military cemetery in colorado with the gravestones and a bird flying out over the top and a quote from a nixon speech saying, many of our troops have already been withdrawn. on the backs of these we would have a very serious comment about what we would the ballot. everybody will be able to express their viewpoint. do. that would be the poster that would grab your attention. was a baby sitting
under a crucifix in a micro have a lotm which we of migrant workers in colorado. it said this radical troublemaker is out to get something from you: hope. they were printed on bright pink , green, orange paper. totally not red white and blue as we were able to get those free. nothing looked out was supposed to look. thosehe d triple c sawthey wert they were like, these haven't gone out. they are up all over town. i was totally convinced. i never quit my jobs. i had these part-time jobs teaching in schools? and i was a hearing officer.
goodhard to get a part-time job. i'm not going to mess up my life. the biggest shock of 1972 was election night when i won. my poor husband at 12:00 in the morning saying i'm going down to the election commission because i really can't believe this. what have we done to ourselves back of -- ourselves? >> one thing i wanted to ask you about. >> the genesis for that? this is not a happy part of the campaign. this is the era of hoover and the fbi and all of that. this was one of the things we thought of when we were thinking about it campaign slogan. she wins, we win.
schroeder is such a long name that we weren't going to do the tricia. we wanted to make sure they knew it was a female. one of my students took the picture. we fixed it all up. while this was going on we had our house broken into a couple times. missing.saw anything we couldn't figure out who is breaking into our hapless -- house and why is nothing missing? after i got elected a year or two later, the front page of the denver post had this article about how this guy named timothy redford had been arrested for breaking into houses and he said , you can't arrest me because i've been hired by the fbi to break into the schroeder house. so i asked for my fbi file under a four-year and comes out like
this -- foia and it comes out like this. you've got to love that. what imagination is that? they had all of these things that she had taken out of the house. stuffres and buttons and and we would have given him those if he had walked into the campaign. those they werethings like i belong te league of women voters. the vietnam veterans against the war. it's just really strange stuff. but the she wins, we win really bugged them. >> what was the real meaning behind that and what were you hoping to portray? >> people thought it would be a whole new era. we have been the plaintiffs on the busing suit, the fair
housing, the democrats -- fair housing. runningleman i was against have been the district attorney who had closed down -- restaurants that serve to hippies because he thought they were a health hazard. people like him. he was this big outgoing -- he was small actually. i would debate him and he would call me little patsy as he looked up at me. one of the best things in the campaign is usually your campaign opponent. he just can believe that anybody was going to vote for me. this tells you how things have changed. he had all these young women dressed up in these little outfits all alike that were mice girls. it was just such a contrast. we wins means we are really
tired of all of this stuff. we want to go different way. the we are never really convinced that 51% -- >> it didn't want to put pat on the button because you wanted people to know woman was running. how important was gender in your campaign? brexit it was very frustrating when i announced for congress. the newspaper said enver housewife runs for congress. they didn't even put my name in. i kept thinking, i'm a housewife. i'm also a harvard lawyer. i also work at a university as a hiring officer. dayas really a problem from .ne women's rights were starting to come to the four.
they weren't quite there but they were beginning. it was all bubbling. a lot of people were absolutely horrified because i had two children. little children.te and i will never forget when i won how many people said, i don't know how you are going to do this. i was kind of the same way. i will never forget getting a phone call. i never met her. i thought finally who's going to stay -- somebody who's going to say yes that's it. have twoi hear you kids. i don't think you can do the job. it wasn't even just being a woman. it was being a young woman with little kids. that really threw people for a loop. factor?our age a big you are very young.
were very young. yeah. the then speaker of the house wonderful carl albert kept saying to my husband, raise your hand. he kept saying, it's her. he would look at me and say, raise your hand. we've got to swear you in. no, it's her. go to all of these events and they would say to me, you are standing in the wrong place. the member is supposed to be in front. he would say, it's her. go to all of these events and they would say tohe's her. >> you have talked about the average campaign contribution. how much of an issue was fundraising for your campaign?
groupsere any women's that were able to offer support? >> no. not in 1972. we talking prehistoric times. basically i always had this theory and when i left congress in 96 my average campaign contribution was $32 and $.50. i've always run against the current on this one. if you got money from people in your district even if it was a dollar they probably had four or five friends. it reverberated into votes. less moneyad gotten from the outside which i didn't from the labor unions or whatever, you got to spend it trying to find people in your district with tv ads or something and it starts to get really expensive.
we did lots of wine and cheese parties and coffees. that's how we did it. elected it wase a small group of women. one of 14 women at the time. because there were so few of you did you gravitate towards each other ? >> yes and no. i remember sitting next the then dean of the women. she was the chairman of the committee. said i'm pat schroeder and i'm new here. you are my dean. what should i call you? she said my name is mrs. john sullivan. i said, i know that. what should i call you? me by myyou can call
name. my name is mrs. john sullivan. i thought, we are not going to have a lot of bonding here. we had at that time almost half had run for here their husband seats after their husband had died. not all of them but some of them like mrs. john sullivan thought they weren't just a woman. they were carrying forward his agenda. whatever that was. martha from michigan, she was terrific. martha griffith. there was the other group that wasn't quite there yet. that's why we didn't have a
women's caucus. 14 was small enough. if you take about half of them we could have at least had double digits. it took a while to get a women's caucus going. we>> you joined four other freshmen women at the beginning of that congress. widows succeeded their husbands. absolutely. >> what kind of bond did you have with that group? was that a special bond? >> yes. barbara jordan was wonderful. they were all terrific. hold really wasn't quite sure if she wanted to be with the group. but she was friendly.
we were a lively bunch. it was a whole new day. >> a couple of those women were african-american. more barriersany and you had? >> shirley chisholm, i have been very excited about her when she ran for president. she said it was almost worse being a woman than being african-american at that time. i think at that time black caucus was all-male. it so when she comes into shoulde not so sure she either one of the group that runs for president in their not so sure she should be running for chairman of the caucus which she did. the steps of things. amongd a lot of pushback
her fellow colleagues in the black caucus. yvonne burke was such a star. she was so gorgeous and so beautiful. should either one of the groupbarbara . she was like the voice of god. everybody adored her. all wonderful in their own right. other people were a little jealous of them because of where they were in the attention they god. there's a lot of jealousy on the hill. i don't know if you've noticed that. a lot of jealousy and a lot of ego. sorts of problems you have to deal with. >> did any of the women that you service a mentor
for you when you first came in? >> martha was wonderful. she was the introducer of the e.r.a.. i still think about it. martha quit because her husband was so ill. had she stayed, she would've been chairman of the ways and means committee. sad. surely left early because her husband had been injured in an automobile accident. earlya jordan left because she came from a very big state. when the texas delegation gets together nobody has a clue if the other guys show up or not you're at it just a bunch of
guys. if i don't come it's like, where was she? almost every woman in the state of texas adopted her as their special representative. you don't get extra staff or anything. she was just slammed with work. with people expecting her to come everywhere in texas and do absolutely everything and answer everything -- every letter. i think it just were her out. yvonne burke had a young child. she got tired and went home. it was easier than commuting back and forth to california. it was ashamed that we lost all of that. they were really such strong wonderful women. women have these different roles
on their very hard to make work. some womenere's equally as concerned about all of those roles. women seem to feel it very strongly. when i was doing family medical , i had both men and women able to take it. i used to go into the cloak room and all of these men would say, if you would take men out of it i would be for it. if you leave men in there, they are going to ask me to babysit at home. two wonderful men really helped me. one was teddy kennedy. who took family leave when his son was hurt. gephardt was richard who suddenly got it when his son was injured.
he didn't have to do that with women. women got it right away. they picked it up and we went on and we kept men in it. for a couple years it was really very scary and there was really pressure to take it out. a lot of these women just had a lot of pressure and away they went. those are the main mentors. i would say martha griffith was the real dean of the group. she was very proud of the women coming in. and bella was always just a kick. and patsy mink. patsy mink was unbelievable. she was a real star in her own right. i kept thinking i can't complain about commuting to denver because she goes to hawaii.
i think they basically were trying to say you are going to much tougher questions which used to happen all the time. constantly going to have writing about your clothes and hair. people asking you to get a haircut. i don't think any mail in congress has ever gotten that. we used to sit in the reading room and laugh about what people have to say. you wear your hair when you just up -- you are dressed up? one reporter went on the air in denver.
-- there's always somebody that believes it. they all have stories like that. more than mentoring we would laugh. you either cry or you laugh. and say eventually it will change we hope. >> did you get advice about getting onto certain committees? >> no. i already figured out what i wanted to do. i wanted to be on post office and civil service because we had a lot of civil servants in denver. judiciary eventually. i figured all the money was going through armed services. i also knew how to fly a plane. i figured there weren't any women and it was very important to have a woman's viewpoint, too. it's all about detecting women
and children and there's never any money for education or anything else i wanted. i thought, i want to be on that committee. that started a real firestorm because the chairman was not at all wanting to put me on the committee. in 1973 when i got sworn in there was an entirely different way of getting on committees. the ways and means committee made the assignments then. grover mills was chairman of the ways and means committee. this is life's little quirky things that you never know. elected, i gotten fromhis giant cheese wilbur mills. i have never seen him shaking his hand. why to use?
-- cheese? that said, i'm in charge of all of this. what would you like to do? i said i would like to be on armed services. i'm on the armed services committee. like -- later on we found out what happened. discovered mills was with his argentinehe was discovs argentine firecracker waiting out in the aisles and was huge scandal. i knew elliott janeway, who was a bit autonomous in new york. suddenly i got all the pieces put together. if only their wives were very good friends. for some reason they were really
interested in my campaign and was like here's this young woman with these kids running out. isn't this interesting? wilbur, ok? number two, he's so busy with the firecracker, he doesn't have time to go home and campaign much. his wife is campaigning all the time and she has a miniature stroke and one side of her face kind of throws. he starts feeling a little -- froze. he starts feeling a little guilty, as well as should. apparently he said that he wants her to you for that woman whatever shall. he did it. that's how i got on. i really thought it was my qualifications, my ability to make my case. it wasn't that at all. it was called guilt. guilt and the argentine firecracker. >> once you were on the
committee, what kind of welcome did you receive? patricia: none. no welcome at all. the interesting thing is it was the hurt -- the first time that ways and means had over ruled something from the chairman. they were then called the college of cardinals, this chairman of these committees. well,rdinal would never, you know. so, wilbur mills, with his wife in his year, decides to override the veto. i show up on the first day. there was also ron jones, who had been here for two years. i don't know if he had been vetoed or not. that, i don't know areas that it was very clear that he was not
really excited about having an african-american on the committee. and we are in feeling pretty good, you know? and he starts going off about this being absolutely horrible. he is bellowing like a bull elephant out in the jungle. it's the worst thing that's ever happened. it's not even worth running for congress anymore. they have taken away all your power. there's nothing left. he says however, i still have the power to determine how many seats are at the dais. and these two people are only worth half of the rest of my members. so they are getting one share. so, ron and i kind of look at each other. we have been on the antiwar movement and we are thinking -- now what we do? we walk in with great dignity and we share a chair. we sat there, cheek to cheek.
barney frank always used to say it's the only have fast thing i did in congress. you know? i'm not sure that's true. but there we were. it was interesting because none of the rest of the committee even pretended to notice. they were all there, basically, to support their own districts and their own bases and they never want to upset the chairman. so, later on, after several -- one ofone of the the staff was very nice and kind of a folding chair out there. [laughter] patricia: it was crazy. just nuts. and it got better. thinking thathim i would at least go see him. he gave me a book that he had
and he signed it. it said the lord giveth, the lord taketh away, i am the lord, don't forget. they pronounced his name a bear, spelled like herbert. he was what we call eight bull weevil democrats. it was really clear that we weren't going to get along real well. office.d me his he said he had an adult room and an adultery room. i thought that's really interesting. i, being this shy, retiring midwesterner that i am, had buttons made up said help, i have herbert by the tail and i handed them out by my cup dashed my colleagues.
"redbook" magazine came and did a cover story of me with the "i havewith the title herbert by the tail" on the cover. in 73 there was the war in israel. the committee is supposed to go over to take a look at what's going on. it was over thanksgiving. i will never forgive the air force for this. we all go out, we go on the air force plane that we are supposed to go on. every seat had a copy of that magazine. [laughter] i was totally ostracized, no one wanted to be near me. yeah, it was an interesting time. i thought i needed a food taster. [laughter] >> you mention earlier how
important it was for you to have a woman's perspective on armed services. can you elaborate on that little bit more? patricia: right. right, whether were lots of things. number one, when i was a child my father hedman called up to world war ii. he taught flying in the army air corps. lot, he neverd a went overseas. i always kind of watched what the military does and i always noticed that they really didn't care about families at all. families were kind of just drag along behind. much -- not much different from the civil war. i really thought -- you know, my main concern about families, the women and the children, that that was essential. to have somebody asking those questions. that they really didn't want to answer. i thought that that was part of
it. part of it was i wanted to see where the money went. and of course, those were the days when we were finding $6,000 toilet seats and just ridiculous things, just ridiculous things. the money was just -- that was very frustrating, too. and i always thought that we should be savvy about what this is. you know? you can't have that, we have got to get another aircraft carrier to protect you. you won't sleep with a night light at night. and i'm thinking -- i live in denver. we don't have enough water to float a duck. and there were also a lot of issues in denver. one in particular, as a pilot, i used to fly out of denver and it's now closed and i would look down and there were all of these in thisitting there
thing called rocky mountain arsenal. at the end of the runway. i remember as a civilian asking the military -- what is that stuff? it looks like nerve gas to me, or something serious, you know? what is all of that at the end of the runway? and they said -- well, it's classified. i made a couple of inquiries. finally some general said to me -- it's kept the russians out of denver. i thought -- well, that's interesting. [laughter] patricia: so, there wasn't much i could do about that. also became local because i wanted to be on the committee to find out what in the world this was. because i had a nightmare that if someone ever wanted to terrorize denver, you take a plane and you say i'm going to run it into those things unless you do a, b, c, d. i ask him they no longer had an excuse, they had to tell me. and it was the nerve gas and
every possible thing you could think of. all of it had been nicely concentrated. i could then start my long press us of trying to get all of that cleaned up. there were a lot of reasons i was very interested in it. obviously, they were not too interested in me. i also thought there were a lot of young women who wanted to go into the military and really wanted to participate. i had the air force academy, obviously, in colorado. they were all of course told no, they couldn't go. i would go up there. and i would say to the young men -- why don't you want women? wearsaid -- well, they can their hair longer. i said does it interfere with the mission. no. do you want to wear your hair longer? no. so what's the issue again?
earrings.hey can wear >> you want to wear earrings? no. does it interfere with the mission? no. it was a very long time before we finally could get young women in. they just finally opened all of these slots i think this year. [laughter] patricia: i mean, it has been a long salt. but protecting those young lionesses in the military, the sexual harassment that many of them went through that did go in , it, you know, i thought it was very important for the committee. kathleen: there were not very many of you during your time? patricia: no, there weren't. and the other issue i forgot about, people forget that in world war ii they commissioned a lot of women to fly aircraft back and forth. they put them in uniform and they were under military command and were told that they would be
treated like other military. well, guess what? they weren't. even inus many years, the congress, to get that straightened out and a lot of the by the time they got it straightened out. always, women were dispensable. it was always like -- that was nice of you, go home now, we are done. there were an awful lot of issues that i really thought were important. another look, some more eyes looking at it on the committee. kathleen: was there any kind of bond with the few women that were there? i know that marjorie hold and beverly byron were there. did you work together on any issues? really well, i'm sorry to say. because i was so interested in the nerve gas, this is a great example with my dear chairman again. there was a nerve gas, an international conference in geneva on it.
i went to the speaker and i said that this is terribly important. colorado is apparently the number one storage at the end of my runway. me as hisointed representative to go. i knew my chairman wouldn't. but then the traditional thing was -- the speaker didn't have travel funds. he appointed someone, he just sent it to the committee chairman and they had the travel funds and that was it. they sent it to herbert, and herbert was like -- that is it. iwill back to the speaker and said, no problem, i will buy my ticket. i will go over on icelandic. i will drive down. you know. the speaker said, her percent solerie hold over as he is
representative with this giant craft and entourage. [laughter] here i am with two kids, driving down the highway because that is where the icelandic stopped. never mind i got there, found out what i needed, went home. didn't care. it wasn't always warm and friendly, you know? which is really too bad. we should have been better at that. we've talked about a lot of issues so far, but one thing we wanted to ask about was the atmosphere of the house when you were first elected. how would you describe that as a young woman coming into the house? [laughter] patricia: well, let's see. i had several policemen attempt to arrest me for impersonating a congresswoman. i don't know what that meant. they would say that she is young secretaries think that you can just drive in to this parking.
or whatever. basically, one of my favorite things was an older gentleman from texas taking me to coffee saying -- i don't understand why you are here. thousande is about dollar bills, beautiful women, and learjet. why did you,? [laughter] matthew: i just went -- oh -- patricia: i just went, oh, is that what it's about? silly me. it was a wide, wide range. some people were very helpful. but an awful lot of people really thought i must have been a fluke. that i would be defeated two years later, not to pay much attention to me. it was a whole range of things.
and other people were just appalled. shouldn't you be home? what's wrong with you? kathleen: how did you respond to those people in those kinds of comments? patricia: it's really just not even worth your time. you just kind of smile and walk away. you will never get anywhere with them. they have got their own idea. you can always tell a congressman, but you can't tell them much. i learned that. you just smile and say -- well, i guess we differ or something and leave. were there parts of the institution that were more difficult for you to get access to as a woman? absolutely. there were no women doorkeepers, no women police officers on capitol hill. there were all sorts of areas that were off-limits to women, we were not supposed to go there.
have a restroom. it was like -- what, do we all have bladder infections? i remember there was one woman in the senate, senator smith from maine. quickhe returned, senator made a run to the restroom, like it wouldn't be any more women coming. like we had that one, she's gone, yet a. that.was an awful lot of women pages, we didn't have any young girls for pages. -- it was a male plantation. i will never forget, walking out one time, there is a porch right lobby. speaker's i thought -- well i will go out and sit on the porch, it's a nice day. , it was like i had
violated every law in the book. there were guys out there sunbathing. i was like -- sorry, it never occurred to me. [laughter] so yeah. of course, the gym was a place where many things happened and decided to finally put a gym in this building here in rayburn for women. it had 20 hairdryers and a ping-pong table. and a masseuse or something. [laughter] it was like, is that your definition of a gym? can i see with the men have for a gym? and of course, the swimming pool, no one could go in the swimming pool. you just couldn't do that. you read -- you really were kind of cut out of a lot of things. socializing, people were afraid to socialize with us, really. why, but it was an
interesting time, a different time. you tell aheard great story once about a dinner that you are invited to with kate graham of "the washington post" with jackie onassis. on.icia: this was early the first committee that they gave me was like a nothing burger committee. you are a freshman, what are the going to give you. they gave me commemorative days and holidays. so nobody paid much attention. except that we were going into the bicentennial. so, i got busy and we did all sorts of things. we were kicking stuff i'll and jackie onassis had edited a book called "remember the ladies," which was from abigail adams letter to john adams when they were writing the constitution. of course, at least she tried. it was about colonial women and
women's history. it was an excellent book and we thought that this should be the book to pass that through. it went through the house because no one was paying much attention. it was like -- we don't have to be in the floor for this. so i never really -- all of a sudden i get this invitation to come to katharine graham's house. i thought -- i must be really important. i get there, here is catherine at one end of the table and jacqueline onassis at the other end of the table. and all of these senators. and the issue was that they were not going to have any part of her book. i remember sitting there listening to this and thinking -- what am i doing here? these are probably two of the most powerful women i can think of in this city in these senators are saying no. they are telling them very
nicely things like -- our vision ,or women, in the bicentennial is beautification projects. you know? and we were all like -- we can beautify and read. we can do both. we think we can work all of this together. we are not against beautification, we just think we could do a lot more -- a little more than that. we are educated, we can read, you know? they had no part in it. finally, their great compromise by the time we got to desert was that it wouldn't be here in america, but they would put the book in the u.s. information library overseas. and of course, ronald reagan comes in four years later and shuts down the whole library. [laughter] patricia: there you go, never saw the book. it did make me drive home that's thatif controversial, what is the problem?
they just weren't going to move it. and they didn't. gym,een: you mentioned the the pool, the areas that it was difficult for women to act s. and other women, how did you eventually break down well,barriers? patricia: there got to be more and more women. we did finally get a women's caucus. more and more we were able to speak with one voice about those kinds of issues. we could not on all of them, but on those kinds of issues it became really -- we should be full members and not kind of like mascots or something. we are not cheerleaders here. gradually it came around, but it was very slow. i don't even know now if the gym has finally worked out. what they finally did was i think they put a dressing room for the women several floors down below the gym, so it really
became a little difficult to use when we were in session because to dress to get up, to go back to redress to get up on the floor, you got to be really fast. i'm not quite sure where it went. personally i was so bloody busy with the family and the kids and , irything else, i must say probably didn't allocate as much time to that as i could other issues. that was frustrating. there was that. there was the wonderful suffragette statue that was in the basement that should have been brought upstairs. all sorts of little things like that that were just really snubs . i mean, really, i don't know any other way to use it or say it. it was just like a snub to women. we don't really want to know that you ever did anything. what could you possibly have done that was important. the women were -- the -- the image was that men came here on
dangerous sail ships but women came your on cruise ships getting our nails done, we were put on pillars. it was pretty astounding. years,: in those early was it an adjustment for you to handle the immediate attention you were getting coming out of your candidacy and being one of a small group of women in congress, what was that like, being in the glare? it never really bothered me. i said you want to talk to me, i'm happy to talk. a lot of it was -- oh my gosh, what is she going to say next? helpinght was always a to communicate with constituents. i didn't do newsletters because i thought they were phony. i had made so much fun of my opponent's newsletters when i was running for office, i didn't dare to. [laughter] the media came, it
was good. it was another time. another thing that probably saved my skin, because i didn't have any money or any real way to communicate that much but at a doctrinethere was that ronald reagan got rid of, the fairness doctrine. staff would watch and if somebody got on the air and said -- i cannot believe with that idiot did today, yada yada yada yada yada, i could ask for equal time and i can say -- let me explain to you what i did today. it was a, b, c, d. you can't do that anymore. i mean, that's a huge, huge problem. i remember towards the end of my career, rush limbaugh started azi all thea femin time. i thought that was an awful word . you can phone, but they don't have to let through you don't
have to take your commercials, they can just keep going. that doctrine is totally gone and you can have it all one-sided if you want to. i don't think a lot of people understand that. i have often said i'm not sure i would have survived in this kind of a climate. the fairness doctrine saved my skin many times. somebody would get on and just go off. well, i could tell you why i did it. i remember, some guy went on -- i love this, i had voted to send the easternkets to bloc countries. this was during the cold war. i thought -- really? what in the world? we looked it up and there was a unanimous consent vote for nerf rockets, little kids rockets, going to a toy fair in it. i went on and i said -- i did.
but we tell you about it. it was a nerf rockets and it was a toy fair. now, what else do you have to you can do those things, but you know, the negative research isn't anything new. they were doing it then and we got it 20 47. you just put it out there. kathleen: you had said earlier that people had asked how you could come to congress with little kids, how is it even possible. how did you do it? how were you able to balance patricia: you know, i'm not sure that i know. there are whole years that i don't think i can reconstruct. i would be so tired sometimes and i would sit down and i would see holes in the wall. just from sheer exhaustion. we did lots of things.
this to oneelling of my favorite pediatricians in the world. kate very breathless in. so helpful to me on children's issues. one time he said to me -- how do you work this out with your kids . i said that i'm so afraid to tell you, you will just have a stroke. he said no, tell me. i'm a lawyer, my husband is a lawyer. my husband is in a international lawyer whose big office is in bangkok. we have this crazy life, what can i say? i said we're both lawyers and so we sign contracts with our kids. we have family meetings and we have a traveling gavel. you have to be three to hold the gavel. it's about what's upsetting you, what is it. like to travel, which is good. we said to them -- they were here, they lived in washington. we said to them -- they don't
have a family allowance, obviously. we had to pay for them every time. we are in this pickle where we don't have enough money to send you to private school and have you travel back and forth whenever you want to do it. or to go with us internationally or do whatever you want to do. so, you can either get really and grades in public school we will put the private money in a fund and you can use it for travel, or if you don't get really good grades, than there really is no option. you know, you're going to go to private school. worked like a charm. never had to worry. reporters always used to ask me the question that you asked about how you can be a mother and they would also say -- what is your biggest fear as a freshman congresswoman and i would say that my housekeeper quits. they would say nobody ever says that. i said -- if they were a woman with two children, that's what they would say.
because my life stops if the housekeeper quits, you don't understand. [laughter] housekeeper, you know, hangs the moon as far as i'm concerned. it was a very busy, active time. the other thing we had to deal with, yellow cab. i could call any time and they would send a certified person to pick up children and ring them if we got stranded anywhere. i was kind of the yellow cap mother of the year, i think. and i often would have to call a neighbor and say -- can you help? because you know, this place is totally unpredictable and it was always when you least expected it that everything goes crazy. i remember one time thinking early on -- what can i do to thank them? i said -- women like flowers, so i would send flowers, right? i will never forget the florist one day saying -- do you mind if i ask you a personal question? i said -- i know mine, what you
read why are you always and in flowers to women? [laughter] patricia: because they bail me out. anyway. you just -- you just find try and put can to it all together. actually, the kids i think really loved it. they went back and forth to colorado, they had a great time, they traveled the world. they were probably healthier than if i was there all the time micromanaging the lives. they would have hated that. colleague'sre your supportive? especially when your children were young? >> no, i would get on a plane and it was funny, they would pretend like they had no idea. we would come on with at rabbits, like franklin delano rabbits, we had. we were like a traveling circus.
it least twoill coax and a glass of milk on me before i got off. you were always sticky. crayola's. it was just -- people would just be horrified. days, you tryrite to look professional, right? and if you are in your early 30's is hard enough anyway. and it's always been hard for me because i'm much too casual. but we had frankland delano rabbit, right? had to go with us. they said -- we have a problem. we were in the tourist section and there was already an animal back there and they could only have one. but they said there is nothing in first class. we will put franklin under the seat, ok? this dear little lady in first class and she's going -- isn't that cute? this was back in the days when in first class they used to roll
down the aisle and make everybody salad in a salad. thinking -- she really wouldn't, she wouldn't. she gets her salad, she opens the door [laughter] franklin full to for freedom. the kids were out of their seats screaming -- franklin. [laughter] running up and down, you can't imagine. i'm sitting there, smiling. we are on our way to denver. everyone is on the way to denver and their like -- hello. you just finally say -- probably never going to look professional , it's just not going to work, not with young children. [laughter] matthew: i wonder if you can tell us a little bit about the beginnings of the women's caucus, created in 1977. just the background behind that. any salient memories you might have. patricia: wonderful peggy
heckler decided that this needed to be done. bless her heart. she had us all over to her house for dinner. most of us were very enthusiastic. people were a little eerie. it was like -- well, you will -- you don't want to put too much in in dues, so on and so forth. that's really how it started out. i got started and i said we built a lot of confidence. --gy then came back and said she had gotten permission to take the whole group to russia -- not to russia, china. it was the international year of the woman. -- mao was still alive. we're talking a long time ago.
the second u.s. delegation going into china. it was really quite an event. they weren't really ready for us. it was so wonderful. nor was the air force. guam tow us to want -- refuel and i would say that all of the women there were fairly anti-or and they decided to take us over to china in the b-52's that they use for the bombings in vietnam. not your audience, really. i don't think we will be too happy about this. then we went on into china and bella brought her husband. and i remember that there was in the hall of the people. her husband was over there explaining how the stock market works. [laughter] patricia: these guys were hysterical. and give on's husband
, were just awful. they went off and they would go on shopping trips and they would try on these silk jackets. the whole place was like -- they had no idea what to do themselves. i don't know what they thought we were going to be, but they weren't what they thought we were going to be. we were not docile little kittens. we had these very aggressive link, schroeder, anyway. that built a lot of camaraderie among the girls. holtzmanlater on, liz took it and when i took it over, in mended we would let with good voting records in than we could do things if we had a majority vote. but it kind of had to of all that everybody felt more comfortable with each other.
of strange, isn't it? why did we feel so uncomfortable ? i don't know, but some did. one of the early issues taken up by the caucus was e.r.a. and trying to extend ratification for states. what you remember about that? patricia: i absolutely do not understand why, all these years, we still don't have women in the const in. we got it through in colorado and we had a lot of fun. we had a group called ladies against women. and we had what was that said i would rather be ironing and $.59 is enough. we had lots of that and whenever a big conservative would come, we would try to get in the front seat, cheer, we would have pictures with us.
we will always carry an ironing board for registration for the people that wanted to register. we knew that they were -- they knew that we were putting them on, but we weren't being disruptive and they couldn't throw us out. i thought we should have some fun with this. we were quite into having fun. but it just -- i never could understand what it was about. no one ever put time limits on .he constitution you only get so many days. just -- we were all very frustrated. liz holtzman was fantastic. had really won. the gentleman that she defeated hassan against the e.r.a.. she was the titular leader in all of it and we were very exact rated. i hear that they still introduce it every year and it still sits there. to me it is -- to me the most
interesting thing was that after there was a survey done of all of the newspapers and all of the tv shows and everything trying to understand what image people got of the equal rights amendment. none of them ever printed what it was, just a few words. someoneasically standing up saying that this is really very important. this is how you solidify women's rights. the other side saying -- my gosh, we will have unisex bathrooms, your mother will be wearing combat boots. it was just this really shocker thing. the congressional research service do a thing on all the things that would have to be changed in legislation if we passed the equal rights amendment. it was a huge long list. just a huge long list. we thought, well this will help.
didn't help. [laughter] obviously it's never been an agenda item and i must say it's very discouraging. it's kind of a two-part question. what role do you think the caucus has played in the institution of congress? a founder looking back, how would you rate how it operated over time? strengths and weaknesses? i think that there for a while we were doing a great job. we did the women's economic equity act every term. everybody brought their stuff together and it was all about improving the economic status of women. it in one big bill, we broke it into little bills, we try to push wherever we could and wherever we were on
committees. one of the ways that we were able to do that so well was that at that time, the congress would allow us to take, as you know, each congressional office has so many slots for staff. we could take a half of a staff caucus. move it to the some one could take it and put it to the caucus. and we could then hire a staff that worked for all of us in the caucus and their one focus was on these bills and what to do and that was great. they had an office here on the hill. so, they were very reachable. we were the largest bipartisan caucus on the hill and we got a lot of things through. we got the women's health initiative through. my goodness, run with that? that was when we found out they had done the breast cancer search on men only. any had no women in
national institutes of health surveyed. use female even rats. so basically, they knew nothing about it. we've got all sorts of things like that. family leave, lots of women having equal access to credit. i remember that. we passed that and then found that the federal reserve interpreted the only -- that is only for shopping. i remember having arthur burns from the federal reserve over only for no, it wasn't shopping. it doesn't say only for shopping. credit,equal access to so we got that straightened out. we got a lot of things through that were not -- there wasn't a lobby for them or anything.
they would have not happened. when newt gingrich became the speaker, he did not like bipartisan talk. he particularly did not like ours. he changed the rules so that you half-staff,these quarterstaff, you couldn't do that type of thing. the caucuses couldn't be on the hill. so suddenly you had to raise money from lobbyists and the people are on and off the hill. i think it's much harder to be effective that way. i mean, getting in and out of here from off the hill? lots of luck. for one more thing, when people have to raise money for so much as it is already, it's very hard. so they are struggling onward, but it's much, much harder than when i was here. i think it's really sad. i think that one of the things that you really need to remember
in congress, information, good information, solid information. the best way to get that is to have the people just dedicated to doing the reading and the finding out, working all around. it's hard to do that office by office. so manyyou only have staff and their standard of trying to cover the other things you are into -- it was just a very efficient way. i also belonged to a defense caucus where we did that. we did several, there was an environmental caucus. it was a wonderful way to have a very rich amount of research , really.epth and it's gone. and it shows. excuse me. editorial comment. [laughter] fmla, a huge issue that you worked on for many years. can you talk a bit about your
role in getting this legislation passed us and mark -- past? ?- passed patricia: absolutely. i introduced the bill and it took nine years to get it signed. i know that this was different from when we finally got past, it took a lot to make it through. but to me every country in the world has done this and they have done it with paid leave. we just keep pretending like it's your baby or your job, lady, have a nice day. it was very, very controversial. remember a representative from the chamber of commerce and the south saying -- little lady, if this passes, down here we will
have to shut down during hunting season. everyone is going to count on their babies coming through in hunting season and i'm like -- really? southern women must a lot different from western women. i don't know anybody who's plan and having their babies and strapping on their back to go hunting. [laughter] patricia: so, it was very hard. in 1987, i started out as gary hart us campaign manager. and then gary hart had to leave the presidential race and in a moment of madness i thought -- all right, i will run for president. you know, it was way too late, i came to my senses in the middle of the summer. but in the interim -- these wonderful people got a hold of me.
a wonderful guy named jerry david goldberg, he was writing family times, a really hot tv show. they said that we like what you are saying about family issues and all of this and we are sorry you are out of the campaign and what can we do? i said -- i have an idea, why not have a great american family chore? i'm so frustrated i can't get these issues front and center. let's go into the primary states and we will have a great american family tour and we will get together and we'll talk leave, day care, what's be going through the american family and why aren't we doing it because everyone else has done it. they thought that was great. we went on a great american family to her through the south. crowds than any of the candidates. we recommended that everybody sign on the back of their checks
the day had donated not to be cashed until family leave had passed. we were really trying to stir people up. we met with editorial boards and all sorts of people. nominee, the first one,e bush, george bush said that he was forward with it. there were like yeah, this is great and i'm thinking -- we are making progress year. this is fantastic. so, we come back, we get a packed. it gets to bush's desk and he vetoes it and i'm like -- excuse me, didn't you say? he said important concept. not as a law. i was beyond frustrated. but one of the states we , our family toin
her, it was in arkansas. and guess who the governor was? it happened to be bill clinton. we when bill clinton came, passed that puppy right out of there and it was the first thing he signed. we got it through after nine years and we were happy to move it along. of things.t we had to put in there that i had to study it for two years to make sure that is mrs. didn't crumble all over america like we were told they would. they didn't. we had to take out the paid part, which breaks my heart. we haven't gotten that paid part. recently they asked me to come up to her to some of her the 20th anniversary and i said that you know what? i'm celebrating. you guys haven't added a thing. what's to celebrate 20 years ago? we are still at the bottom of the heap. nobody does as little as we do
just finally did something. so yeah, we moved it. i wrote a book called champion of the great american family, that we put out in 1988 that had all of the stuff that we were doing in the great american ofily tour, but it was a lot energy and effort to get that one bill done and the fact that he still -- obama talked about paid family leave, think goodness, but we still don't have it. except in a couple of states and a few places, but we are a long way and to me it just makes no sense. i don't understand how every other country has found a way to work this out and we just can't figure it out. i think we are smarter than that. you were also one of a group of congress women in the early 90's. you marched over to the senate to urge that anita hill have the opportunity to testify about
then supreme court's nominee clarence thomas. what do you remember about that event and the reception over in the senate to that march? that was aricia: very gray day. clarence thomas, i was very aware of. post office and silver service, ferraroe, myself, gerry , we each had subcommittees and as the three subcommittee chairs we put hours together to talk about the quality, what was going on, all these kinds of things. we had clarence thomas come to testify and he always left at us and told us it was us stupid law . it was so frustrating to think int this guy didn't believe what he was supposed to be doing, so no wonder he wasn't doing it. meanwhile, there he sat. to begin with, we weren't fans,
shall we say. so suddenly he's up. and we haven't heard much about what was going on and suddenly this wonderful woman says -- i would like to testify. we looked into her background and she was amazing. i mean, she was a southern baptist all the way through. she had gone -- very straight arrow. straighter than straight. had some interesting stories to tell about the chairman. she had volunteered to testify and went over and asked to testify. that's how passionate she felt about it and they said no caps on of thank you. we got really rather riled about that and one morning we went in and did one minute speeches. you know. a wonderful young women who did
my press back then, andrea cap, i said what can we do. she said go outside, walked to the senate this way. we know that they were having lunch. she said do it this way so it won't be distracting. go up the stairs, go in there and knock on the door. so, we did. well, the democratic senators were meeting for lunch, as they do every week. we knocked on the door. to our shock, the majority leader answered the door and said we don't that strangers in here. and we had of said -- strangers? thought of ourselves as your colleagues, excuse us. and then we kind of said you see all these people out in the hall behind us? toy are press, this is going be pretty. what do you want to do? he said to come back at a totain time and i will talk you. let me find out what is going
on. ok. so, we are trying to be fair. we say -- ok, we will come back. so, we come back, we sit down and we explain to him what the -- he says, well, i'll have to tell you, i'm sorry about this, but i finally got them to say that they will have her come testify, not the others, she can come but that the chairman had promised senator danforth that he would make this hearing fast and quick and we get this over. and we are kind of like -- so his promise in a gym is more thistant than nominating supreme court justice? word isu know, your your word and the chairman of the committee feels very strongly that that's how it's going to be. obviously they put her on early in the morning when nobody is watching.
on screaming, yelling, hollering about how he had been -- he was being lynched and all of this other stuff that he was talking about. they then -- they didn't put the other women on. and we got him for a supreme court justice. we were very unhappy from a lot of different standpoints. i mean the fact that they were treating us like they had never seen us before? trying to invade their space? who are you people? we used to say that it only took the senate longer to get cranked up because they had ironed togo and everything. we thought that they -- they see us, they know who we are, we thought, but apparently they didn't. and then this whole thing about -- you don't understand the rules of the senate. someone in a gym gives you their word, then this is how it must the. i'll be, you know question mark we can't even get into our
gym, so i guess we didn't know that. i don't know. it was really a bad day. the good news out of it is i think we got senator feinstein and senator boxer out of that. because women were mad all over the country. it's not a good way to get it. we also got clarence thomas out of that. not one of my favorites, anyway. well, in 1992 the press called that year the year of the woman because there were so many women elected to congress. 24 new women elected to the house. what does that feel like for you to suddenly have new -- more women in the ranks of the house. very excitingas and of course, i think that was the fallout from the whole hearings that we just talked about. with clarence thomas. people were so mad about anita hill cost treatment. so a lot of women got elected.
and yet even then we were not ok?of the house, i remember walking out there after swearing them all in and one of my colleagues said to me -- i hope you're happy, this place is starting to look like a shopping center. [laughter] do you shopere where the people are all women? [laughter] patricia: really, it looks like a shocking mall -- shopping mall to you? some people were shocked by it. it. , i wasfirst got elected in this idealistic mode of this is wonderful. how long do you think it will be before almost half of the houses female. ofi asked the library congress or somebody what they thought and they said probably 300 years. i'm beginning to believe they were right. it has been very incremental.
very incremental. >> earlier when we were talking you mentioned congresswoman sullivan and how she was the dean for women when you came in. eventually you rose to that position. what did you feel like your role was to other women being the dean at that time? patricia: we tried very hard to not attack each other and we tried very hard to mentor new women who were coming in. it's this are running very tough thing. a lot of us would adopt women who were running for the first .ime we tried to work out what we could put in these big packages we could get through and how we might do it. basically seeing how much we could get done. it was an important time to get done as much as you could get
done because you never knew what was going to happen next. >> did you offer advice to some of these younger women coming into the house that did not have as much experience as you did? themcia: i always said to one thing i found is i'm not an actress so the best thing you can do is say what you think. if it turns out later on you change your mind you say, i don't have enough information and now i think this. i find people are more forgiving if you just deal with them very honestly one thing at a time. games yourt playing can't remember which game you played with which group. women are expected to do so much more i find it. sort of expected to be everywhere, do everything. that is hard. it's very hard.
not burning yourself out. all of those things. having some other women friends makes a big difference. >> you want to move to retrospective questions? we have a few general rep of questions. -- wrap up questions. there was a small group of women when you came into the house and now there's 108 women in congress, eight in the house, 28 in the senate. looking at now, what role do you see women playing in congress that's different from when you came in? patricia: i think they have a lot more power. the debate academically has always been your change institution when women have a critical mass, you don't change it by just having one woman in .there everybody's got a different
number. we're getting closer to a critical mass. when we were 14 there was no one afraid of us, believe me. you could say i won't deliver my vote but that's about all you could do. a critical mass sticking together could make a big difference long-term. i think the women in the senate have done a very good job with that. when the government shutdown the women said this is nonsense we've got to figure this out. .nd they did that to me is the role model of what we should be doing. what i hope women will do in the future as they keep moving in. >> do you think that your service in the house inspired any women to run or will possibly inspire future women to run for congress? patricia: i hope so. let me tell you a story. and weive in florida
roof thing called list. we are trying to encourage women to run. ruth brian owens was the first woman from florida. whenever i got depressed i thought about how all these early women had to feel and she was one of the ones, i can't even imagine what it was like. she had a district that went from miami to jacksonville. she drove herself in the 20's -- in the 1920's, she got creamed , who is thisr hussy driving herself around? and she wins. the guy shes up and defeats wildly because he says she is no longer an american. she's a foreign national because she married a british officer
who was wounded in world war i. this is 1926. she had to then go sue and finally she got her seat. imagine what that woman went through. and then imagine when she watched best when she walked out on the floor the greeting she must've gotten from her colleagues standing with the guy she defeated. that must have been a lot of fun. -- iver i used to think think i have it pretty easy compared to what she had. i think you put it in that perspective and hopefully the real lesson is that is more of you and you really can work together somehow, you can make a difference. usually you can find something you agree with people on. i think that's what this congress has lost of late. it's more fun to fire at each
other that it is to sit down and talk to each other. that is a shame. matthew: it had a couple sentences of advice to give to a prospective woman candidate was running for congress what would that be? patricia: i would say to do it. women wait to be discovered. that are come out lately have confirmed what i can saying. men will apply for a job if they are only 60% qualified that women have to you 100% plus. , or are very cautious about if i have all that want someone find me and asked me to do it. there not going to ask you to do it. you will have to raise your hand and say i will do it. deal with it. getting easiers
because each generation is -- tellingittle more women just to do it is terribly important. it will always find someone else if they don't go out there. they are not just going to come knock on your door and say we happen to notice you have all of the attributes that make a perfect person. that's not going to happen. kathleen: based on your experience how you convince women to run? what would you say to them? i was so frustrated when i ran, i was so angry about the vietnam war, all the different things that were ran because i thought some got to stand up and say something. my frustration now is when i hear people saying we are
frustrated with everything, we are not going to bother. if you don't bother, it's only going to get worse. you've really got to bother. freedom is also a responsibility. responsibility of every citizen to realize they have to participate. if you don't want to be part of the game you really don't have any right to complain. if you vote and if you get out there and work for candidates that you believe in, you could change it. you could overrule so many things. they are thinking about taking away the vote i'm sure right now someone thinking about how to get the vote away from them. tell you i can tell you how frustrated i am by the , bigr of people who say money has come in and this has happened and government does not work and all the people are crooks. i'm like, really you're just
going to surrender. surrender. find five good people you really like and say we are going to get committed and do something and have them find five. i don't know where we lost that this., that we can do if we don't it's not going to happen. freedom does not come like a bird on a wing. .ou have to work for it we got a lot of work to do right now. kathleen: one question may be a good one to end with, what do you think your lasting legacy will be with your 24 years in the house? patricia: what did i say? i think what i said in my book was that i still have the same husband, both children turned out to be ok.
difference made some for america's families which is what i was very concerned about. have a little fun with people as we went along. if you can do some of those things that makes a big difference. kathleen: is there anything else you wanted to add? patricia: that's probably find. matthew: we are right up on 4:00. kathleen: thank you so much. 1968: nine week series, america in turmoil, is available as a podcast. find it on our website c-span.org/history. american history tv only on c-span3. >> lots of people feel like i don't want my kid to read stories that are disturbing, downbeat, whatever.
that's not a totally illegitimate thing to say i want to choose as a parent when my kid understands stuff that might bring them grief. there's a point beyond which, they are 14 now, when i you going to introduce them to the idea that not everything is perfect outside your white suburb? all those factors swirled together to create the perfect or fire of mass censorship of books by marginalized people. \ctorow will bedo our guest discussing his latest book, walk away. his other books include down and out in the magic kingdom, little brother plus 14 other novels. doctorow.ith cory today, live from noon to 3:00 p.m. eastern on book tv on
c-span2. >> are comcast cable partners worked with c-span cities to her staff when we traveled to new mexico. las cruces is located south of --uquerque, 275 miles 55 miles north of el paso, texas. >> fort selden was established in may of 1865. the primary reason the fort was established was to protect the citizens of the missy of and travelers on the trade route, which was historically .he camino riau trade from santa fe to chihuahua and back. that was the primary purpose and the protection was